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by Brian Brooks
June 8, 2011 4:42 AM
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John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat Among Chinese Stars Who Pimp for Communist Party Blockbuster

Some of China's biggest film names will be toting the party line in a new blockbuster celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party.

In a story first reported by Associated Press, "The "Beginning of the Great Revival" tracks the lead up to the 1911 revolution that overthrew imperial rule and the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party on July 31, 1921 under Chairman Mao Zedong.

The project's official website lists notable names such as Liu Ye, John Woo, Daniel Wu, Li Chen, Andy Lau and Chow Yun-fat among the participants.

Director Han Sanping told a news conference the movie is better than 2009's "The Founding of a Republic," which told the story of the Communist Party winning power in 1949.

China Film Group is hoping for a repeat of the success it had with "The Founding of a Republic," which made 415 million yuan ($61 million) at the box office, a large amount for China and for the usually staid propaganda genre.

Its success was helped by politically correct theater operators who flooded their properties with screenings. The "Beginning of the Great Revival" is likely to receive similar treatment.

Communist China's founding father, Mao Zedong, is played by Chinese actor Liu Ye, best known to Western audiences for his roles in the Zhang Yimou imperial drama "Curse of the Golden Flower" and the drama "Dark Matter," which costarred Meryl Streep.

The announcement comes as China continues to clamp down on the Jasmine Revolution, a series of pro-democracy street actions in Chinese cities that began February 20 of this year. Among the arrests that have followed is that of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who was incarcerated April 3 and has yet to be charged beyond an accusation of "economic crimes."

"They're pretty savvy about media," said filmmaker Alison Klayman, director of the upcoming documentary "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry," which she hopes to bring to festivals this fall. "They're used to using the tools at their disposal to celebrate sensitive political anniversaries. A couple of months ago, they did a big ad in Times Square. (And) it's a cast of people who have participated in things like this before."

Klayman says she has a DVD copy of "The Founding of a Republic." "I bought a bootleg copy in China, with English subtitles," she said. "I never felt like I was ready to watch it."

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